Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dvar Torah for Parshas Eikev

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       In this week’s parshah, Parshas Eikev, Moshe continues his final address to Bnei Yisrael. With each parshah in this Sefer we see Moshe focusing on a different idea for Bnei Yisrael to work on. This week is about accepting the yoke of Mitzvos and performing them first through fear, but eventually through love and devotion. We see this idea clearly in the parshah of וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ, the second section of the Shema, which is found in this week’s parshah. The entire paragraph says how all success and failures for Bnei Yisrael are results of them keeping or not keeping the mitzvos.
       The pasuk at the end of this paragraph says, “לְמַעַן יִרְבּוּ יְמֵיכֶם וִימֵי בְנֵיכֶם עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם“In order that your days may increase and the days of your children, on the land which Hashem swore to your forefathers” (Devarim 11:21). The Gemarah in Brachos (8a) tells a story that the Rabbis came and told Rebbi Yochanan (who lived in Eretz Yisrael) that there were elderly people living outside of Eretz Yisrael. This was extremely perplexing to him since this pasuk implies that only in the land which Hashem promised us, Eretz Yisrael, will there be elders. But outside of Eretz Yisrael? Impossible! However, once they told him that these elders arrive early and leave late to Shul, the Gemarah says that he understood.
       Says the Kli Yakar, this Gemarah does not make sense. The pasuk is quite clear, only in Eretz Yisrael will people live to advanced ages, so why would it matter how long they stayed in Shul, they were still not in Eretz Yisrael?
       He answers by bringing another Gemarah in Maseches Megillah (29a) which says that in the times of Mashiach, every Synagogue and Study Hall outside of Eretz Yisrael will be transferred to Eretz Yisrael. As a result of this, the ground where every Shul currently stands is considered the ground of Eretz Yisrael. The same way the ground beneath an embassy belongs to that country even though the country may actually be thousands of miles away, so too the embassies of Hashem, the Shuls and Batei Medrash, are also considered the ground of the one place where Hashem continuously watches and rests his Shechinah, Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, the people who spend extra timetime in Shul can be included in the brachah of this pasuk and can grow old even outside of Eretz Yisrael.
       For those of us not living in Eretz Yisrael, this is a tremendous idea. But even for those of us living in Eretz Yisrael, we can still take a lot from this. For us, we have luck upon luck. Not only do we live in the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael, but we also can daven in Shuls and learn in Batei Medrash that are in Eretz Yisrael proper, not just embassies in foreign countries.

Shabbat Shalom!

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